Survival kit for parents of exceptionally gifted children
Meckstroth, B.
Highly Gifted Children
The Hollingworth Center
Vol. 10, No. 4

This article is a list of practical strategies for dealing with the frustrations and challenges of parenting highly gifted children. This "survival kit" was developed by Betty Meckstroth and a group of parents at the conference of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children. These survival skills were developed, tested, and refined in the best laboratory of all - the daily lives of the families of highly gifted children.

This survival kit was developed by Betty Meckstroth and a group of parents attending the 1988 annual conference of the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children. These survival skills were developed, tested, and refined in the best laboratory of all-the daily lives of the families of highly gifted children!

What to Do When You're Feeling FRUSTRATION, ANGER, OR GUILT

  • Nurture yourself first, so you will have the patience and energy to provide for your child.
  • Prepare ahead of time. Recharge your inner self before taking on tasks and battles.
  • Enlighten yourself with possibilities. Education = Knowledge.
  • Actively involve those who work with your child. Educate them.
  • Take a brief 'sabbatical' when you're feeling tired or upset.
  • Make an ongoing commitment to gifted education and to developing educational options for children. The larger problem isn't fixed just with our own children.
  • Involve children in decision-making processes. Acknowledge their goals.
  • Become involved with support groups.
  • Remember that these are children, not just intellects. Consider age-appropriate activities.
  • Validate new rules and standards.
  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Relish your accomplishments!

What to Do When You're Feeling TAKEN OVER

  • Escape!

  • Make time for yourself alone if things are too stressful.

  • Schedule work/alone time when you cannot be disturbed. Schedule time for yourself in your appointment book and in your children's schedules.

  • Go for a walk with your spouse. Make time for just the two of you.

  • Foster independence. Have children take more responsibilities around the home (e.g., making breakfasts or lunches).

  • Set and keep bedtimes, whether the children are tired or not. This will allow more adult time.

  • Hold a family council.

  • Allow someone else to meet some of your children' s needs.

  • Bring teenagers into your home to help with toddlers.

  • Resolve your own issues so that you can respond better to your children's.

  • Create your own personal space in the house ('a room of one's own'.

  • Have relatives and friends develop special relationships with your children.

What to Do When You're Feeling ISOLATED

  • Network.
  • Encourage children to connect with other children who have common interests.

  • Strengthen, form or lead local and national organizations.

  • Connect with other parents of highly gifted children.

  • Find support for your child through adult role models, counselors, etc.

  • Locate clubs and organizations appropriate to your child' s interests (Scouts, 4-H, Campfire, academic or creative competitions, etc.)

  • Organize family-centered activities.

  • Find groups that provide good leaders, preferably those that will help you and your child form relationships.

  • Become extroverted in actions that will benefit your child.


  • Acknowledge your limitations. Allow for imperfections and your own humanness.

  • Set priorities; find a balance. Use time wisely, perhaps in promising advocacy approaches or additional quality time with your child.

  • Parents need to nurture themselves as parents. Add to your own repertoire of coping skills.

  • Take time away from problems to be quiet and to reflect. Consider how much time is wasted. Can you restructure or eliminate some less essential tasks?

Permission Statement

The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.

Close Window